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Friday, February 5, 2010

Yes, Knives

I've started to see gender as if it were knives.

Some people play with knives, juggling, knife throwing, etc. Or, say, they have particularly keen interest in their use in martial arts. This is seen as amusing, dangerous, what-have-you.
Almost all people use knives -- cooking and eating and such. Everybody uses some knives, everybody gets a knife at the dinner table. Some people need sharp ones, some people need dull ones. Some you do mundane things with, some you do exotic things with. You butter your toast; you cut a patient open for lifesaving surgery.

And some people have been traumatized by knives in some way -- say, they got stabbed, repeatedly, and it was really really horrible. Or someone held a knife to their throat, threat of violence, and did something unspeakable. So they're fucking scared of knives, and don't feel safe around them now.
So what happens, I think, is that there's this disconnect between people who play with extreme forms of gender, who simply use gender, and the people who are traumatized by it.

The people who play with it are fucking with knives all day, and they don't get why people freak out sometimes. (I mean, they make mistakes too -- you get scars! They were comparing scars, they do that amongst themselves. How'd they know it was going to freak out that one person?) The people who just use them are kind of in the middle and get freaked out by extreme examples of knife use in most contexts. (Because it's one thing to, yanno, cut your steak up, or even slice a roast; watching people juggle knives is just Too Much For Them.) The people who are traumatized by them have as few knives in their house as they can and try not to let people realize how terrified they are of it. (And that last part is perhaps not as common, but I know it's that way for me -- I didn't want people to realize I was so afraid of knives, I figured they'd use it against me.)

I fall mostly into the latter two categories -- I don't want to do anything extraordinary, I don't want to violate gender norms. Not my personal fight. Playing with gender's not really my goal. I don't think people who do violate them should get any crap over it, but I'm transitioning to be a woman, not a tranny.

If the day comes that I feel comfortable in the idea that I have the option of stealth, I'll be damn happy.

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for posting this. I like the metaphor. I think it fits well.

    Although, it should be said that many people who play with gender have plenty of gender related scars. Playing with gender can be a way to overcome that, like playing with power can be a way to deal with sexual abuse. For some people-- but not for all.

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